Concert Foul No. 18: Standing at a Seated Show

theaterchair.jpg
These things are called "chairs." They're meant for sitting.
It's a rock show reflex: When the curtain goes up and the lights go down, you stand up and prepare to wig out.

Fact is, many of the area's best venues make the choice of whether to sit or to stand during the show an easy one. By typically not offering seats (at least on the floor or directly in front of the stage) for the rowdier shows, the awkward scenario that sneakily unfolds when attendees are expected to sit is generally avoided.

Of course, then you have concerts such as Bon Iver's recent gig at the too-good-to-be-true Winspear Opera House. On paper, leading up to the highly-anticipated show, this pairing of artist and venue seemed to be an inspired arrangement. And, musically, it was a rousing and goose bump-inducing success that will go down as one of the greatest shows of 2011 in Dallas.

Interestingly enough, though, the rock-band-playing-in-an-opera-house dynamic shined a light on something that might be one of the more understandable, yet still unnecessary, concert fouls in the book: The Sitting Show Stander.

There are other, more minor issues at play in such a venue -- the random screamers are far more discernible in such a serene setting, for one example -- that border on Concert Foul status, but those seem to be a more a cousin of the Sitting Show Stander, as they are also the result of a person probably just trying to get the most out of their concert experience and not being sure how to get that in this unexpectedly bizarro-world scenario.

The primary annoyance of the Sitting Show Stander is logistically simple, emotionally understandable, yet philosophically infuriating. Regardless of the motivation, the core of this foul is the common culprit among so many other concert fouls: blatant inconsideration for fellow concert-attendees.

If you want to know whether you'll be expected to sit during the show, just look around. The couple of thousand people occupying the show around your seat will likely yield the answer.

It's easy when you're at the Winspear to see a lecture or an operatic production. You sit, period. Even at the Bass Hall in Fort Worth, when Lyle Lovett or Robert Earl Keen makes their regular appearances there, people know to sit. Much of that, of course, is due to a much higher median age than what made up last week's Bon Iver show, though.

Call this ageism, but older folks like to sit at their concerts. To quote Ron Burgundy, "It's science."

If Bon Iver had taken to the stage wielding only acoustic instrumentation and proceeded only with candlelight illuminating the stage (which would be a natural setting for much of his work), then I imagine people would've felt compelled to sit throughout the night, without any fouls being committed, emotional drunkenness be damned.

But when pulsating strobes, thundering drums and Slash-like guitar solos began to show themselves early and often, the pairing of musical style and venue became understandably confusing for those who like to salute the ones who are about to rock.

Hey, if the occasion arises where the crowd begins to stand en masse to enjoy the show, then it becomes a standing show -- period. And, really, there's nothing saying that a show's standing or sitting status can't be fluid. But it's doubtful that will happen too terribly often at a venue like the Winspear, unless the ATTPAC folks decided to book, say, GWAR to their confines.

The question at hand: Does the purchase of a ticket provide the holder with unlimited license to carry on in any manner they choose, simply because the song being played is "their jam" or whatever?

The answer: No. The Sitting Show Stander is making a clear and defiant decision that, while hundreds or thousands are sitting around and behind them, they are the ones who are right,  even though the numbers glaringly suggest otherwise.

As with a previous Concert Foul -- shouting out requests -- the Sitting Show Stander is a creature that is born not only out of inconsideration, but, in all fairness, out of great passion. I get it, I really do. The songs of one's favorite artist are very personal and carry a ton of emotional weight with the Stander. But that's probably the case for the person adhering to the sitting protocol behind the Stander as well.

Maybe the Sitting Show Stander would realize that if they sat down long enough to take in their surroundings. It's called common courtesy.


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18 comments
Deweil
Deweil

Hi Kelly, While I agree that courtesy and consideration are to be valued, your article is inconsistent in this regard, for you say:  if the occasion arises where the crowd begins to stand en masse to enjoy the show, then it becomes a standing show -- period. I've been to over 300 shows, some with seats, some SRO, and what I've noticed is that at most shows, particularly rock and roll shows (and I include the Chuck Berry, Beach Boys style RnR in that descriptor), people will stand up at the beginning, the end, the encore, and the 'big hit(s),' regardless of chairs. I recently saw the Beach Boys at a show with only chairs (the lawn was closed although some people did venture out there). People stood/danced whenever they felt the urge, young, old, and in between. But there were only moments where the whole crowd stood. I don't think it's fair to tell the person in front of you - 'THIS song you can dance to, because I want to dance to it, but the NEXT song, you better be in your seat.' Either you sit the whole show, no exceptions, or you don't.  My main problem with your advice is that you're if enough people do it, it's OK.  I have been to shows where it's clear the majority of the audience is interested in 'the hits' and thus show less enthusiasm for the newer material. I think it's ridiculous to expect those who do follow the artists' career to bow out and sit down simply because those around him don't care about the new album.  As you said, it's fluid. It's music, which, don't forget, is largely an auditory experience. It's not a movie, although I will add that it's a shame that people think it's OK to talk loudly during concerts, to the detriment of those around them trying to listen, as if a live musical performance doesn't deserve the same attention and respect as a film or play...I'm seeing Neil Young in November, with a floor ticket. My father bought a seat because he wants the ability to be able to sit down when he's tired. That doesn't mean he'll sit the entire show and if he does, he has no right to tell the guy in front of him that he now has to sit as often as a 64 year-old does. I believe an artist has a responsibility to choose a venue that matches his audience's needs. Lastly, I think it should be noted, you're looking at thinks from your perspective, a blogger, not a musician. Musicians, like myself, want the audience engaged, and one of the primal ways to do that is to 'get them on their feet.' How many times has a band said 'Everybody up!' or some other call to rise? Countless. It happens everyday, in every city, and of course there will be those who don't want to. Perhaps they're tired, old, injured. Maybe they just don't like standing. That's OK too. You just don't get to legislate your physical limitations on the rest of the crowd. 

Bigmac Tony
Bigmac Tony

Ultimate 'concert foul?'

Uptight boring people telling everyone else what to do.

Just stay home.

Derekf74
Derekf74

If nobody is allowed to stand in your book because there happen to be chairs at that venue, then how does it ever possibly reach that tipping point of "standing en masse"? You want to sit down for a rock show? Go buy their friggin Live DVD and watch at home. Or just get over it. You can still hear it even if all you can see is my ass. You'd probably like that better anyway.

Gus Mitchem
Gus Mitchem

Someone needs to tell the SEC that those damm aggies will come to your place and stand the whole game

Talk about a pain in the ass during a seated "show"

Austin V
Austin V

This was a problem during Sufjan Steven's last tour too at MacFarlin Auditorium.  You could see the anguish in people's eyes that were sitting as Sufjan and his on-stage support did full on dance routines. 

Lance_Lester
Lance_Lester

When I saw Massive Attack at the Verizon Theatre it was a seated show.  But, apparently someone forgot to tell that to the gang of people who decided to walk down front and stand in front of the people sitting in the first row.  Awkward.

Lies
Lies

Can you guys stop doing these posts?  CHUNKLET ROCK BIBLE laid out all these posts and comments many years ago.

MBM
MBM

This concert foul girl really thinks highly of herself.  I hate sitting shows generally, if the artist is worth a damn you should feel compelled to stand.

Maybe if you stand then the rest of the douches in the area will stand as well and before you know it you're at an honest to goodness concert?!?!

I can understand old people, but otherwise get off your fucking ass and enjoy the show.

nipper
nipper

also, you forgot, standing up on said chair, turning, and proceeding to urinate...

Steve
Steve

True story: Fu Manchu show in Austin a few years back. My brother and I are standing a ways back, but everyone has established their personal space,  Dothead in a fedora rolls up and squishes directly in front of me.  Aziz Ansari cockily stood there and pretended not to hear me as I said, "hey I was here do you think you might move a little bit over..." So the third time he grinned and said he couldn't hear me I reared back and spit directly into his face from about an inch away.    My brother (since gay), then kicked the shit out of him, and we had a happy rest of the evening. I mean, just that hat warranted the ass kicking, but let that be a lesson:  Don't outdrive your physical headlights, Skinny Douche Boy.

(BTW, this is not a regular thing and is only acceptable treatment of overconfident dickheads who have binders full of participant ribbons and WAY too much self esteem.)

Gavin Mulloy
Gavin Mulloy

Can someone please write one about being short at a standing concert and complaining loudly when tall people are in front of you?

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

ALL college and high school football games are standing "shows".

The high school that I graduated from even has student T-shirts printed up that read on the back:  "Yes, we will be standing for the entire game".  Greatness.

Kelly D.
Kelly D.

Never heard of it... Perhaps I'll check it out.... Probably not since I've already written about so much of it, huh?

Also, should we stop running concert reviews since most bands that we review have been reivewed before? Should we also stop running interviews with touring artists since other interviews with them can be found elsewhere?

Kelly D.
Kelly D.

To MBM: First off - I'm a dude (common mistake though, of course, so whatever). Second of all, if it's a seated show, it's a seatted show, period. The venue often times (not all of the time) dictates whether you sit or stand at a show, not the show's overall quality. Using the term "honest to goodness concert" is so generic and completely lacks any substance that it was just a waste of your typing energy, frankly.

I'm sure that many felt compelled to stand at that Bon Iver show. I did at times, even, but it wasn't a show where the overwhelming majority were standing (not even close), so I chose to be considerate of those around me, jack-hole.

Also, how does my thinking that people should be considerate of others at a seated show result in my so-called thinking "high of myself"?

nipper
nipper

dothead. gotta love that. you can feel the resentment and hatred building for camel jockeys and jockettes in this country, can't you? sure you can, liars...

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Kelly, can you please have a chat with Mr. Whitt about this responding to your readers thing that you are doing?

Please.

And, keep going with these.  They are always good for a chuckle.

Gus Mitchem
Gus Mitchem

If your short please dont breed and this problem can be eliminated in a generation or two

but no you short people keep hooking up and fucking, usually other short people

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